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Chapter 23. Print > Imagesetting tips

Imagesetting tips

An imagesetter is a device that produces high resolution (1,250–3,540 dpi) paper or film output from electronic files. A commercial printer uses paper or film output to produce plates. Nowadays, some printers output directly to plate, skipping the intermediary film output step. The following is a checklist of things to do to help your imagesetting run successfully:

  • Find out if your commercial printer can output your electronic files. Since they're intimately familiar with the printing press—its quirks and its requirements—they're often the best choice for imagesetting.

  • If you're outputting the file at an output service, ask your commercial printer for specific advice regarding the following settings: Lpi (lines per inch), emulsion up or down, and negative or positive. Also ask whether you should set trapping values yourself or the output service should do the trapping on their high-end system. Tell your output service what setting your commercial printer specified, and they will enter the correct values in the Print dialog box (Output pane) when they output your file. Don't guess on this one. And don't hesitate to ask your commercial printer to talk directly with your service provider.

  • Make sure any pictures in the document were saved at final printout size and at the appropriate resolution for the final output device, which means approximately 1H times the final lpi for a black-and-white or grayscale picture and 2 times the final lpi for a color picture. If a picture (especially an EPS) requires cropping, rotating, or scaling down, do so in the picture's original application, if possible—it will output more quickly.

  • Use the File > Collect for Output command to collect your document and associated images and to produce a report file. If you don't supply your service bureau with the original picture files, the low resolution versions will be used for printing (yech!). The report file lists important specifications that they need in order to output your file properly, such as the fonts used in the document.

  • If your output service needs a PostScript file of your document, ask them for specific instructions.

  • Some service bureaus will supply the fonts—at least the Adobe fonts—but some printers prefer that you supply them all. Include both the screen and the printer fonts, and don't forget to include fonts used in any imported EPS pictures.

  • Include laser printouts of your file (unless you're modeming the file), with Registration marks turned on, or send a PDF version of the file.

  • If your document doesn't print or takes an inordinately long time to print on your laser printer, don't assume it will print quickly on an imagesetter. Large pictures, irregularly-shaped picture boxes, and clipping paths are some of the many elements that can cause a printing error. If you are using the same high-resolution picture more than once, but in different sizes, import copies of the picture saved at those specific sizes.

    To reduce the amount of information the imagesetter has to calculate, delete any extraneous items from the document's pasteboard. To find out if there are any pictures on the pasteboard, choose Utilities > Usage, and click the Pictures tab (F13 in the Mac OS). If you see a dagger icon in the Mac OS or the letters “PB” in Windows, it means that picture is on the Pasteboard.



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